Which Is The Better Approach: Anti-(Whatever) or Pro-Conservatism?
It’s bothered me quite a bit lately to see conservatives taking so much of an anti-(whatever) response to situations rather than presenting a pro-conservatism approach. I’ve been guilty of it myself, and I’m taking myself to task on it, too.
For one thing, taking an anti-(whatever) approach is usually reactive rather than proactive. Also, when we take an anti-(whatever) stand, we leave no doubt what we stand against but don’t always communicate what we stand for. When we fail to communicate what we stand for, we leave ourselves wide open for liberals to put their own interpretation of our position and attempt to use their interpretation as a means of swaying public opinion.
Confused? I’ll try to explain what I mean by those statements. Take this article posted at the NYT as an example. The article, written by Mr. Charles Blow, is basically presenting a pro-liberalism position arguing for greater government intervention on the issue of abortion. Here’s the basic premise that the author uses on which to support his argument:
According to a report issued this week by the Guttmacher Institute, the unintended pregnancy rate has jumped 50 percent since 1994, yet a July report from the institute points out that politicians are setting records passing laws to restrict abortion. It said: “The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005 — and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010.” Add to this the assault by conservatives on Planned Parenthood, and what are we saying?
This is what we’re saying: actions have consequences. If you didn’t want a child, you shouldn’t have had sex. You must be punished by becoming a parent even if you know that you are not willing or able to be one.
This is insane.
Even if you follow a primitive religious concept of punishment for sex, as many on the right seem to do, you must at some point acknowledge that it is the child, not the parent, who will be punished most by our current policies that increasingly advocate for “unborn children” but fall silent for those outside the womb
The author proceeds to present a specific line of logic in making his argument for greater government intervention and then concludes with the following statement:
We have to start this conversation from a different point. We must ask: “What kind of society do we want to build, and what kinds of workers, soldiers and citizens should populate that society?” If we want that society to be prosperous and safe and filled with healthy, well-educated and well-adjusted people, then the policy directions become clear
It wouldn’t be difficult take the comments the author has made and respond to it with an anti-liberal, anti-abortion, anti-statism, anti-(whatever) type of position. The author’s comments associating “a primitive religious concept of punishment for sex” with legislative restrictions of abortion is a gross distortion of conservatism if there ever was one. It would be easy to blast this as sheer moronic stupidity and a desperate effort on the part of the author to portray conservatism as being irresponsible in regards to our society as a whole and liberalism as being responsible towards society as a whole. There are plenty of anti-(whatever) responses that could be made to an article of this sort.
But if I took an anti-(whatever) stand in responding to the author’s comments, does it actually present the strength of conservatism to those who might read what I have written? Not really. And anyone reading my responses would come away from it with a clear idea of what I as a conservative might stand against but very little would have been communicated about what I stand for.
The very least that I could do would be to present a contrast and comparison, isn’t it? Even on the issue of individual accountability, which is one of the basic precepts of conservatism, I could point out that liberalism supports the belief that individuals are incapable of developing the human qualities and traits that allow them to make mature, responsible decisions in how they respond to the situations that they face in life and therefore does not lend itself to generating the kind of environment that encourages development of any sense of accountability on the part of the individual. Conservatism, on the other hand, very much so supports the belief that individuals are not only capable of developing these types of qualities and traits but also that it is benefits our society as a whole when they are encouraged to do so, and goes to great lengths to encourage individual accountability.
I could present the contrast-and-comparison argument that whereas liberalism supports expansion of government and places responsibility for far too many social issues on the shoulders of government, conservatism contends that it is ultimately the choice and responsibility of the individual that makes the difference in the long run.
Perhaps I could say that the generation of social safety nets supported by liberalism often ends up being little more than a crutch that encourages excessive dependency on government. By comparison, conservatism supports independence from government, where the individual accepts both the rights and responsibilities associated with freedom to the extent that they choose of their own accord what kind of person they will become, what kind of life they will live, and to what extent they will succeed in contributing to our society as a whole separate from any dependence on those safety nets.
As I said in the opening statement, there is a lot of anti-(whatever) that is being presented by conservatives at the moment.
The question that has been going through my mind lately is this…if we support conservatism, why aren’t we focusing more on what conservatism stands for rather than what it stands against?
Which of the two gives us a greater chance to persuade other citizens in our nation to choose conservatism?